Luciano Spalletti claims that his hand was forced when Inter visited the Stadio Olimpico to take on Torino on Sunday afternoon, where he set his side up in an untried 3-5-2 in an experiment that didn’t go to plan.
Lautaro Martinez and Mauro Icardi were chosen to spearhead the attack together, but neither managed to make Salvatore Sirigu throughout the 90 minutes.
The Argentine pair had started together two weeks prior in the Nerazzurri’s comfortable Coppa Italia defeat of Serie B side Benevento, after which Spalletti admitted his displeasure with the way the first-half went with both being on the pitch.
“They could have done more in the first half,” he confessed to journalists at his post-match press conference.
“From a tactical point of view and sometimes they made the wrong decisions.”
That day, though, the duo looked lively, alert and involved, with Lautaro, in particular, showing promise and a willingness to use Icardi as the focus of his gravitational field and operate around the No.9.
In a 4-4-2, and albeit against weaker opposition, the pair received service that wasn’t there on Sunday.
Creativity has long been a problem for Inter under Spalletti and their latest stumble is yet another example of them being left wanting for someone to join their midfield and attack.
“Except for [Antonio] Candreva I had no wingers available,” Spalletti explained when asked why he chose to mirror Torino’s 3-5-2.
“[Matteo] Politano wasn’t fully fit, but I decided to risk him in the last 20 minutes and I couldn’t use [Ivan] Perisic because he’s not ready after his injury.
“It was an opportunity for the team to raise it and to see two strikers playing together.”
Icardi and Martinez were both on the pitch, but nobody who watched will have any clearer an idea of how they can link-up than they would have before kick-off.
Inter were bright for the opening ten-or-so minutes at the Stadio Olimpico, with Lautaro dragging an effort wide that he could have scored and he showed good movement and an understanding with his compatriot. The duo exchanged short, sharp passes and made runs into space when the other had the ball.
That initial spark soon faded though, and Inter had nothing to trouble Toro for the majority of the game.
Joao Mario, Matias Vecino and Marcelo Brozovic lined up in midfield but not one of them ever managed to put their foot on the ball and take control of the game, while Danilo D’Ambrosio and Dalbert were ineffective on either flank.
Candreva and Politano were both introduced late on and before the latter foolishly talked himself into a sending off, he looked his usual direct and bright self.
The Mautaro combination is one that can work, and there have been glimpses in their limited minutes on the pitch together that they share a good understanding of each other’s game.
With Politano back in the team they will have more service, but to really get the best out of either – whether alone or together – Inter either need more players to step up and create or to sign someone who can.